“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” ~Henry Beecher

Monday, August 2, 2010

What's Wrong is Sometimes Right

Most days during the week when I’m not working in Boston, I’m spending time with my Uncle who has been recuperating from an illness. I love the time we’ve been spending together because he’s a dear sweet man who’s shared so many stories of his life and his wisdom with me and we’ve had some profound and heartfelt conversations. I’m so grateful that my schedule has given me the opportunity to choose to spend the time with him.

The other day, we were having lunch together and he told me this story. There was a man whose wife would make him baked macaroni and cheese, but it was never right–it was never like his mother’s. No matter how meticulous she was in the kitchen, his wife never got it right for him. Then one day, she forgot about the macaroni and cheese in the oven and it burned. And the husband loved it because it was finally like his mother’s. His wife had finally gotten it right.

All those years growing up, the man’s mom paid little attention to the cooking, which is why she often burned the food, while his wife took care with the meals she prepared. For some, the wife was cooking the right way and burning the food was wrong. But for the husband who liked the burnt dish, it was done right.

So who’s right? Is it the husband who grew accustomed to his mom’s burnt food or his wife for not burning the food? Should the husband have been satisfied with his wife’s “under-cooked” macaroni and cheese, particularly if that’s the way she liked it? Did the wife finally get it right when she burned the macaroni and cheese, or did she do something wrong?

I believe in this situation, what’s right is what works. What’s important is not what the wife did that made her husband happy, but that it made him happy. So if making him happy meant burning the food, then burning the food was right, as long as she was happy with the outcome. If, however, she was unhappy with the outcome, then that complicates matters, and maybe she should stop making macaroni and cheese altogether. But that’s another story…

P.S. The picture above is my brother's meal from the other night of skirt steak quesadillas from Millie's on Nantucket. Definitely done right!

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